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Helping Hands

A Lakeview man calls in a professional to add color and character to his partially renovated condo.

A portrait by Tim Anderson from Thomas Masters Gallery hangs above the sofa, adding a pop of color to the living room.

The outdated cherry wood kitchen was completely transformed with a full-height marble backsplash and Farrow & Ball paint.  

Custom built-in cabinetry designed by Dominique Fichera Birchmeier provides storage and display space while creating a handsome focal point in the living room. 

A rug made of recycled Indian saris and two cyanotype artworks—“Hello Death” (2016) and “Path to Power” (2016)—by Mariano Chavez from Agent Gallery Chicago animate the master bedroom.

The graphic green-and-black malachite-patterned wallcovering from Cole & Son gives the en suite bathroom some much-needed personality.  

In interior design, the final layer is often the most crucial, and that’s the part that was vexing Dan Nisbet when he renovated his two-bedroom condo in the heart of Boystown.

“I know what I like, but I have trouble pulling it together,” explains Nisbet, a vice president of development for a nonprofit organization.

Aided by interior designer Dominique Fichera Birchmeier, Nisbet had succeeded in eliminating his condo’s early-aughts vibe. For example, the formerly dated cherry kitchen cabinetry is now a sophisticated gray hue, which is accented by gleaming white quartz countertops. A wall of built-in navy blue cabinetry makes another big statement in the adjacent open living room. But the place still didn’t feel quite like him.

To help him punch it up, Nisbet hired his friend David Hopkins, an interior designer and co-founder of Praed Projects. To get a sense for Nisbet’s aesthetic, Hopkins took him to several art galleries.

“When he bought that big yellow painting, I knew that he really did want to do it up,” Hopkins says, in reference to the portrait by Tim Anderson from Thomas Masters Gallery that hangs above the living room sofa. It’s one of many layers that Hopkins introduced to the space, including a Turkish rug, red silk draperies, vibrant patterned pillows, a vintage accent chair and a collection of agate.

“It was supersedate and kind of classy looking, but his personality is kind of effervescent,” Hopkins explains. “He wanted something more fun and zippy.”

That’s how Hopkins got the magenta rug made of recycled Indian saris in the master bedroom, he says, pointing to the way it pops against the textural navy blue wallcovering that Nisbet had already selected. In the same manner, a reupholstered vintage lounge chair, and side tables with a brass inlay, elevate the existing leather headboard and a green-and-black malachite-patterned wallcovering completely transforms the once-bland master bathroom.

“This place is a reflection of Dan,” Hopkins explains. “We always strive for that, and with him, we knocked it out of the park.”

Although Nisbet considered moving, he’s glad he renovated instead. After 12 years, he’s a fixture in the neighborhood, and since his place is ideally located near bars and restaurants, he often hosts happy hours and post-dinner cocktails for his friends.

“I had random ideas, but David has distilled and curated them into something that looks good,” Nisbet says. “I could go on and on.”